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Superbugs 'spread by hospital wet wipes'

image copyrightScience Photo Library
image captionMRSA bacteria can cause skin, blood, lung and heart infections

Researchers at Cardiff University have claimed the use of wet wipes can spread hospital superbugs.

Scientists from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science tested seven detergent wipes used in hospitals across the UK on three common infections.

They showed "huge variability" in their ability to kill the disease-causing bacteria.

In every case, the wipes spread the superbugs from one surface to another.

The study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, carried out a 10-second wiping procedure to test the wipes' effectiveness on MRSA, Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) and Acinetobacter, which can all cause life-threatening illnesses.

They were very inconsistent in their ability to remove spores of the bacteria from hospital surfaces, and they all spread significant amounts of bacteria over three consecutive surfaces.

image copyrightScience Photo Library
image captionInfection with Clostridium difficile bacteria can lead to life-threatening complications

In 2012, there were 1,646 deaths involving C. difficile infection in England and Wales and 292 deaths related to MRSA.

Study author Prof Jean-Yves Maillard said: "Wet wipes are generally good products, but the efficacy of these products can be improved. Hospital staff must be educated to ensure these products are used properly and will not cause an unnecessary risk to staff and patients - a single wipe should not be used on multiple surfaces."

Related Topics

  • Infectious disease
  • Cardiff University

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